In April 2001, many Japanese national institutes were reorganized as Independent Administrative Institutions
(IAI) based on the General Act for Independent Administrative Institutions and the act for each institution.
Under the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), the National Institute for
Materials Science (NIMS) was established by the merger of the National Research Institute for Metals (NRIM)
and the National Institute for Research in Inorganic Materials (NIRIM). One of the biggest changes was
the expansion of autonomous administration. The nanotechnology and material R&D field was prioritized
in the 2nd (2001-2005) and the 3rd (2006-2010) Science and Technology Basic Plans; subsequently, NIMS
was assigned to take the initiative in nanotechnology as well as materials science. NIMS has proactively expanded
research fields through the introduction of researchers from polymers, electronics, and biotechnology
as well as member institutes of the World Materials Research Institute Forum (WMRIF). Globalization has
been promoted through programs that include the International Center for Young Scientists (ICYS) and the
International Center for Materials Nanoarchitectonics (MANA). The 4th Science and Technology Basic Plan
(2011-2015) emphasizes outcomes-recovery and rebirth from the disaster, green innovation, and life innovation.
The Midterm Plan for NIMS also follows it. R&D collaboration by multi-partners (that include industry,
university, and GRI) should be strategically promoted where GRI are especially required to play a hub function
for innovative R&D and open innovation. NIMS highlights are Tsukuba Innovation Arena (TIA) and the
Nanotechnology Platform Project. On January 20, 2012, a new organization was decided on by the Japanese
Government where several IAI from different science and technology areas will be merged to realize more
effective R&D as well as administrative cost reductions. NIMS is also supposed to be merged with 4 other
R&D IAI under MEXT by the end of 2013.
This paper is developed from a presentation delivered at the "2012 STEPI International Symposium", held in Seoul, Korea on May 4,
2012. We are very grateful for the valuable comments and discussions we had at the Symposium.